Karnataka Minister B Sriramulu, who was said to be miffed after he was divested of the Health and Family Welfare portfolio during the cabinet reshuffle, on Tuesday said he accepted the new responsibility ‘happily’, following attempts by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to placate him.
Effecting a minor cabinet reshuffle, Yediyurappa on Monday had allocated the Health department to Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar, while entrusting Sriramulu, a prominent ST leader in the state BJP, with the key Social Welfare department.
Seemingly sulking over the timing of reshuffle, Sriramulu had met the Chief Minister on Monday and was closeted in a meeting with his associates for the entire day, without speaking to the media.
Following the developments, Chief Minister Yediyurappa had called both Sriramulu and Sudhakar to his official residence here this morning and held a discussions with them.
“Earlier, when the party came to power, I had requested the CM, to give me the Social Welfare department, but due to various reasons I was given the Health department, considering my good work in the previous stint.
Now the Chief Minister has taken the decision that I will have to work for SC/STs and the poor,” Sriramulu said.
Emerging out of the CM’s residence along with Sudhakar, he said without paying heed to various media reports, he has accepted the responsibility of the social welfare department very happily.
“The Chief Minister had called me and my friend Sudhakar and asked us to work together in the interest of the people,” he said.
Sudhakar is a Doctor, and with an intention that things may improve if the responsibility of both health and medical education is given to one person, CM has given him the responsibility of the Health department, he added.
Sriramulu, who has time and again expressed his deputy chief ministerial ambitions, is miffed because of the timing of the move.
He was worried that the decision to divest him from the responsibilities of the health department amid the Covid-19 pandemic, will send a wrong message to the people about his capability, sources said.
Responding to a question that reshuffling of the portfolio is now being seen as his failure, Sriramulu while rejecting it said all of us are putting in our efforts under the leadership of the CM to bring Covid-19 under control, we are trying to do all that we can beyond our strength.
“When Sudhakar took over the responsibility of Covid-19 management in Bengaluru there were 1000 cases, now it is about 5,000 every day, that doesn’t mean he too has failed,” he said, trying to defend himself.
“Technically if the health and medical education departments are together, it will help in functioning effectively and in making decisions.
It is not now, the separation between departments has come from the past, so Sudhakar and I had discussed with CM about bringing them together,” he added.
Sriramulu did not respond to questions whether he was informed in prior about changing his portfolio and regarding taking back the Backward Classes Welfare department from him.
The Chief Minister’s decision of taking back the Backward Classes Welfare department, the additional portfolio that he was holding, had added to Sriramulu’s displeasure.
Addressing Siramulu as ‘Anna’ (elder brother) as he is senior to him in politics and the BJP, Sudhakar said it is not demotion for Sriramulu as being projected by the media, he has in fact been promoted.
“… as he (Sriramulu) is a senior leader from ST community he has been given the responsibility of Social Welfare department, which is a major portfolio and a huge responsibility.
Chief Minister had spoken to me and Sriramulu several times,” he said.
Noting that the cabinet expansion that was to take place is likely to be delayed due to Bihar polls and bypolls, Sudhakar said to have coordination and to resolve technical issues between both health and medical education departments at the lower level, this reshuffle was done.
Nowhere in the country these departments are separate, health is one department, he said. “… it is not the question of who is big or small, it is the question about the health of the people of the state,” he said.
Sudhakar is now in-charge of the overall Health related affairs in the state, which has been witnessing a spurt in Covid-19 cases.
In early weeks of coronavirus management, the government had drawn criticism from some sections over its strategy and handling with Sriramulu and Sudhakar seen “competing” with each other to lead from the front, sometimes creating confusion.
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